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Hokie Hoops Introduction: Cartier Diarra

By Ed Williams | October 21
Hokie Hoops Introduction: Cartier Diarra
Via 24/7 Sports

With the 2020 Virginia Tech basketball season right around the corner, it is time to take a look at some of the new faces who are expected to make an early impact. While we still don’t know what a basketball season in 2020 will look like, we do know that whenever the season tips off, the Hokies roster will look a lot different than it did a year ago. The first newcomer to highlight has a track record of success and the potential to be a huge contributor right away: Kansas State graduate transfer Cartier Diarra.

Diarra arrives in Blacksburg after a career year at Kansas State. As a junior in 2019-2020, Diarra averaged 13.3 points per game, 3.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, as well as 1.8 steals. To put those numbers in perspective, Diarra was one of only seven players in the nation to average that stat line or better. Diarra also lead the Wildcats in assists 21 out of 32 games last season.

Putting the statistics aside, Diarra will fill a much-needed role in Mike Young’s offense: an on-ball initiator. With Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker departing after the 2018-19 season, the Hokies struggled to initiate offense off the dribble last season. While Wabissa Bede is fantastic on defense and a solid floor general on offense, he does not provide the isolation offense necessary to make a defense rotate late in the shot clock. In addition, with Landers Nolley transferring to Memphis, the Hokies are in need of an explosive isolation scorer. That is exactly what they are getting in Cartier Diarra.

When you watch the film on Diarra, he simply pops off the screen. An explosive athlete with a fearless mindset to scoring the ball, Diarra brings a slashers mindset to an offense filled with sharpshooters. His ability to beat a defender off the dribble or with a screen and get into the paint will open up the floor for guys like Jalen Cone, Hunter Cattoor, and Nahiem Alleyne.

Besides the offensive impact, Diarra will also provide a boost defensively and on the boards. The combination of Bede and Diarra has the potential to be a lethal defensive backcourt with the ability to turn defense into offense quickly. Additionally, Diarra’s height (6’4) and athleticism makes him an effective rebounder, which could allow Mike Young to continue to utilize three guard lineups.

Diarra’s skillset on both sides of the ball fills a huge need in year 2 of the Mike Young Era, and all signs point to this being a mutually beneficial 1-year relationship.

Ed Williams

Ed Williams

After 3 years in Blacksburg, I graduated from Virginia Tech in the spring of 2019. Before transferring to VT, I played 1 year of lacrosse at another southwest VA school, Ferrum College. While I loved the D3 life, transferring to Virginia Tech was the best decision I've ever made. I loved every second of my 3 years and I wish it lasted longer.

You'll have a hard time finding a bigger VT Hoops fan than me. Watching the 2019 men’s basketball team make a run to the sweet 16 is by far my favorite VT sports memory, and I’m excited to watch Coach Mike Young get this program back to that level on a consistent basis.

Besides Virginia Tech athletics, I am a huge D.C. sports fan. The Nationals winning the 2019 World Series is my single favorite sports memory, and quite honestly will be very hard to beat. Hopefully a Virginia Tech football or basketball National Championship will give the Nats a run for their money in the near future.

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